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Chelsea fans finally have something to sing about

Finally a win for Frank Lampard. The performance was far from polished but it might go a small way to restoring the legacy of one of the club’s greatest ever players before he leaves the club again in a few weeks’ time.

Lampard had lost all 10 of his games as a manager in 2023: four with Everton and six with Chelsea. Bournemouth have been going in the other direction and, a few months ago it would have been impossible to imagine a scenario in which they entered this fixture on the same points.

His status as a player still saw him well supported from the away end on a drizzly afternoon at The Vitality Stadium, despite his players looking listless for long periods in the second half.

Bournemouth made a strong start with Jefferson Lerma going close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute. But it was Chelsea who did so as Conor Gallagher got between Lloyd Kelly and Adam Smith to head N’Ngolo Kante’s cross in the ninth minute.

Sarcasm rang out from the Chelsea end: “we are staying up,” and “we’ve scored a goal” were among the chosen chants.

Chelsea were growing into the game and began to dominate possession but were pegged back by a superb Bournemouth equalizer.

A flowing move between Mathias Vina, Ryan Christie and Dominic Solanke ended in Vina curling a wondering shot into the top right-hand corner as Lampard crossed his arms and retreated to his seat in the dugout.

For those with a longer-term view, there were encouraging signs for Chelsea. Noni Madueke was a constant threat down the right and much brighter than either Mykhailo Mudyrk or Kai Havertz alongside him. Mudryk’s sole contribution was booked for a dive in the first half before Lampard withdrew him after an hour.

In midfield, Kante and Enzo Fernandez were largely in control and Benoit Badiashille was a welcome presence on his return to the defense and clearly has a bright future ahead.

But there was something intangible missing. A lack of purpose and intensity. The second half passed largely without incident.

Solanke was poised to shoot after being teed up by Dango Ouattara in a rare chance for Bournemouth but he was denied by an impeccably timed challenge from Thiago Silva.

In the closing stages, it was Bournemouth who appeared far more interested in winning the game. Vina had a chance to add to his excellent goal after being found by Christie but Arrizabalaga stood strong at the near post.

As the game was drifting into nothingness with the drizzle having returned, Chelsea scored an unlikely winner. It came from a set piece as Hakim Ziyech swung a free kick to the far post where Badiashile scored with a side-foot volley via Neto’s despairing arm.

Lampard remained unmoved on the touchline as Chelsea added a third. Raheem Sterling drove at the defense and squared it for Joao Felix to score first time, three minutes after coming off the bench.

Just the second away win of the season for Chelsea, as the away fans reminded those in the home end: “How s— must you be? We’re winning away.”

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